Lady Tigers place third at Academy

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Playing for the third place trophy of the Joe Armijo Classic at Albuquerque Academy was not what Los Lunas girls basketball coach Marty Zeller had in mind when the weekend started.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas sophomore Sanae Gaerlan, right, tries to knock down a pass by Oñate’s Deana Lopez in Saturday’s game. The Lady Tigers lost to Hope Christian, but bounced back to defeat Oñate to place third in the Joe Armijo Classic, and will play at Los Lunas Middle School at 7 p.m. Friday against West Mesa.

But in the semifinals, the Tigers ran into a hot Hope Christian team that took the tournament by storm. The Tigers fell to the Huskies, 67-54.

Then, like the opening round 77-45 win over Los Alamos, Los Lunas dispatched Oñate, 73-43, to take third in the prestigious tournament, while Hope Christian took the title over Volcano Vista, 57-48.

Los Lunas (4-1) is scheduled to host West Mesa (0-6) on Friday with the contest to be played at the middle school gym because construction at the high school campus will require the electrical power being turned off at LLHS this weekend.

“I don’t think it will matter,” said Zeller of whether the change in venue will impact his team. “I don’t know that gym that well, but I am going to look at it. We will come to play, just like in any gym.”

The West Mesa game is the only contest on the schedule impacted by the construction. The Village of Los Lunas Tournament, beginning on Thursday, Dec. 27, is slated to run as scheduled at the Tiger Activities Center.

“I am going to check out the gym a little,” said Zeller, jokingly indicating that if the 3-point line was a little closer, that might be alright.

“It will be nice to see a packed house,” he quipped, due to the playing in the smaller facility.

Hope Christian 67, Los Lunas 54

The Class 4A Tigers did what they wanted to do defensively Friday, in part, by limiting Leala Longmire to just eight points.

But the 3A Huskies lit it up from beyond the arc, hitting five 3-pointers in the Armijo Classic semifinal.

“We do not usually go into games and talk about any one player,” said Zeller. “Against Hope, we actually did go in and talk about just one player. It took us out of our team defense and we just never got it back.”

Robyn Walker scored 18 points, Marissa Perry and Kasey Howington had 16 each. Perry hit two treys and Howington and Walker had one each.

Teige Zeller led the Los Lunas scoring with 18 points. Sanae Gaerlan had four 3-pointers on the way to a 14-point effort.

The Huskies built a 38-29 halftime lead, which they maintained throughout an evenly-played second half.

“They have all been 30-point wins or better, except Hope Christian,” said Zeller, noting how tough the Huskies were.

“They are a good ballclub. They beat Cibola (54-41) and that is probably a top five team in the state. They beat them by 13, and then beat us by 13.”

Hathoot scored seven points, while Murphy and Cera Chavez had six each. Chavez did not play in the Oñate game with an undisclosed injury.

The Tigers only hit nine of their 21 free-throw attempts.

Los Lunas 73, Oñate 43

When Katie Inman drove to the basket with only four minutes gone in the contest, her twisting basket while being fouled would just about put the finishing touches on a Tiger victory.

She hit the free throw to put Los Lunas up 11-2. The Tigers built a 17-6 lead by the end of the first quarter and were never really challenged by the Class 5A Knights (5-4).

Gaerlan hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter, part of her 15-point night that includes four from behind the arc, to fuel a 32-21 lead going into halftime.

Zeller was pleased with the rebound from the Hope Christian loss.

Teige Zeller, Gaerlan and Tinaya Murphy all scored 15 in the win.

Los Lunas scored 23 in the third quarter and led 56-36 going in to the final frame.

“We actually came out in different offense and we ran it really well,” said coach Zeller. “It was just total overall team defense that made the difference.”


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.